Saturday, April 9, 2011

Murder on East 14th Street

Yesterday morning (April 8, 2011) Jesus Campos went to work at Otaez Mexicatessen for the last time. Until yesterday I didn’t know his name. I just called him and his wife “Boss Man” and “Boss Lady.”

I had a business a block down the street for 16 years. I remember when the Camposes bought the place from the Galindos. It was a crummy hole in the wall. I advised them to make a “super” burrito… kind of like La Fortuna on Fruitvale. They took my advice.

Then they started to expand. They took over the hooker bar (The Barcelona) and East Oakland Auto Parts. Otaez became a “Mexicatessen,” restaurant and grocery store combined. Eventually they phased out the groceries and got deeper into check cashing.

Hard work is an understatement. It seemed that “Boss Man” and “Boss Lady” were always there. In the afternoon their daughters, still wearing their St. Elizabeth’s uniforms, would come in to help out. Years later I think I could still recognize the family resemblance in at least one waitress.

You may notice that I don’t use the politically correct street name: International Boulevard. I sold my business just before that took effect. I still consider the whole name change to be a fatuous gesture of obscene impotence on the part of the Oakland City Council.

Serious crime was a serious problem along that corridor. Rather than making it more dangerous and difficult to be a criminal… they changed the name of the street. As if history would also change as a result.

As this is written, the police are saying that Boss Man’s murder may have been part of a planned robbery. He had very regular habits… and did a lot of check cashing.

Meanwhile, Oakland remains a magnet for villains. Section 8, rent control, overwhelmed law enforcement and criminal hugging politicians and non-profits make it so. What does it take to recognize the obvious? How many more hard working extremely decent people are going to be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness?

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